Kevin Colyer's thoughts and ponderings

Semi-random rambles

Importing a car into Belgium


We have been thrilled to be given a wonderful VW Passat from our dear friends in Germany. Being sans voiture has been OK but a little tiresome. It is amazing how many times for work and for pleasure a car makes things so much easier. We have no base car in YWAM Brussels at the moment which is a bit of a shame and has made things a tad more complicated.

However the process of importing a car is quite intriguing. And I thought I would start a little series documenting my progress here. I know someone will find it helpful someday!

The Theory

So here is how to import a second hand VW car from Germany to Belgium

  1. Make sure you have a bill of sales to prove you bought it
  2. Make sure you have all the German car documents
  3. You WILL need a Certificate or Conformity (COC orEWG in German). The seller or VW garages should provide you with one. If not you can order them on-line at
  4. Go to the Customs and Excise house in Brussels (Rue de l’éntrepôt, 1120 – in the port area. It is number 11 under the concrete bridge. Parking out side. It is not easy to find!). Room 0.3 on the right, ground floor. Now 2nd floor, corridor on the right, first office.
  5. You will need 3 cents one Euro to pay for the stamp (Vignette)! Yes 3 cents one Euro and they don’t take credit cards either. Beware the office hours are 8am-11am and 1pm-3.30pm.
  6. You will get your pink slip for the Matriculation (road licence)
  7. You will need to get insurance cover.
  8. With the insurance cover and your certificate and your pink slip you can go to the Contrôle Technique station for the annual safety check
  9. Then you can go and wait for a very long time at the Véhicule Immatriculation Centre near Rogier Metro. There you will get one license plate. You can cut another nearby.
  10. Put your plates on your car. (official plate MUST be on the back – you will get stopped otherwise)
  11. You might like breakdown cover from Touring or somewhere else
  12. You might need a parking permit (like I do) to park near your house. The commune can provide this but watch for the opening hours. You need you final plates for this to work so it is the last step!

It seems easy enough eh? But I can’t find instructions anyway on how to do it so I will write up my own for the future.

The Practice


Arrived back in Brussels with the car from Germany. Tired but pleased! 550 Km on 1/2 a tank of Diesel!

Off to the Custom’s house via Fortislease to pick up some donated computers. Tried to find the Customs house. I found the street (they are hard to hide) but the customs place is off the road under a concrete apron next to the long line of loading bays on the left-handside of the road. Arrived at 16:00 at Customs house but the desks had all shut at 15:30!

I have spent the morning going around Brussels trying to get my car registered. Firstly I went to customs. Then I realised I needed 3 cents to import my car. Having no cash on me I went to look for cash… On returning the lady was surprisingly helpful and quickly polished off all the paper work. I asked what was the next process and she said I needed my Certificate of Conformité or COC (it declares that the car is legal for Belgian Roads, provided by VW.) So off I went to the VW garage (I need a spare key anyway) and to the Service d’Agréation on the 3rd floor. (or Service d’Aggravation as I will call it now).

The men there rudely told me I could not get it from them but had to get it from the VW re-seller in Germany. I asked for an address for the re-seller. No chance of that. In fact no-one in the entire VW garage could work out who to call or even had a number for VW Germany.

So I ordered a key. Went to the Contrôle Technique to see if I could do it before having all the paper work (short answer no!) and so I went home!

It took me 5 minutes to solve my problem on the internet when I got home and I found a free-phone number for VW Germany. The man on the phone pointed me to a website (, which once I registered and entered the chassis number, promised (I think – it was all in German) to send me a COC for 0 Euro’s at 19% VAT plus 5 euros postage (it weighs about 10 g!)

My Belgian Insurance broker is much better and responded to an email and phone call this morning.

Reflection: Belgian VW dealers really don’t care. German VW dealers are GREAT! Friendly, knowledgeable, and one even called me back with out me leaving a message! WOWSo now I wait for the COC to arrive. Then, just Contrôle Technique, a long wait picking up my plaques, Touring Assurance and then Parking Permit for here in Etterbeek! Phew!


Author: kevincolyer

I was born somewhere in England. Kevin and Nicki were joined in wedded bliss in September 1994. I have four wonderful Children. I am a currently training to become a vicar who can start churches among people who are not really churchy. I desire to start lots of these culturally relevant churches all over. I am a strong supporter of Free/Libre Open Source Software. I have been known to enjoy high quality Belgian beer. I occasionally listen to Coldplay. I like trying to speak Dutch. I like to think I can speak French. I lived in Belgium for 10 wonderful years and still miss it.

33 thoughts on “Importing a car into Belgium

  1. Hi Kevin,

    Very nice howto, just the thing I need. Thanks for the summary.

  2. you have not tried to get a car into Malta I believe!!

    this is EASY compared to the process here

    • Oh boy – I don’t want to even try!

      Do they make it as hard to find out HOW to do it in Malta as they do in Belgium?


      • thanks for your detailed info. i want to buy second hand bmw from germany. do i have to pay vat in belgium or any other tax?

      • As I understand it you do not have to pay vat in Belgium on second hand cars. Any vat that is due will be included in the sale in Germany.

        A new car however is a different case I believe and you have to pay vat in Belgium.




  3. Thank you very much for the details, very clear description of what I need to do!
    Very helpful, thanks!

  4. Hi Kevin,

    thanks a lot for the detailed procedure.. I’m living in Brussel and planning to buy a car from Germany(somewhere close to Cologne). I’ve been planing to buy a 1999-2000 Mazda MX-5 which is at least few thousand euro cheaper. Let’s see if I can do it:)


  5. hello there :o)

    did you not have to pay import duty as the car was not in your name?

    and when i brought a car to Belgium from the UK they would not register it unless the documents were in my name IE, the UK ones, HOW DID YOU GET ROUND THIS PROBLEM?

    • Dear Timmy,

      That is a good question!

      I can’t recall now. I had a bill of sale, so that was clear (even if the car was from a friend – I paid 5 euro I think.)

      But if you discover anything I am happy to modify what I have written here as folks like yourself are still reading it and commenting after many months now, so I would like it to be accurate!!!



  6. Kevin my new found friend>

    This is over a year ago for me – and I cant quite remember much about it, well apart from the backwards and forwards from customs to Contrôle Technique back to Brussels and so on, although I am now looking for a new car, witch caused me too google the process again, hence coming here. I will defo not buy a car in Belgium -> there just too expensive, so it looks like I will have to do it all again, only this time I will document it all and pass the info on to you so we can all be enlightened.

    Regards Tim
    Heverlee :o)

  7. > I know someone will find it helpful someday!

    I did – a big thank you!

    Quick question – do they speak English at Customs or do I have to go there with a French speaker 😉

  8. Hello, your post is very helpfull indeed 😀
    I was just wandering how much you have to pay, appart from the import tax (if needed).
    I was told you have to pay a circulation tax EVERY YEAR ???
    Can you tell me how much it is, more or less?

  9. Hi all,
    it might be useful information.
    FAQ: Buying a car in Europe

    brochure – Buying a car in the European Union

  10. Hi Timmy,

    Thanks for the guide, superhelpful!

    Now I am a girl (not to feed the stereotypes..) looking for a reasonably priced car, so I turn to Germany. But I have heard rumours that you have to pay crazy import taxes (like 30%) when you buy the car and you are not German wanting to bring it to Belgium. Did you encounter this problem?

    Thanks so much in advance for your help!

    • Dear Isabelle,

      If I understand correctly there used to be import taxes on second hand cars but that is no longer. It really is a token amount for the stamp (although changed from my original post).

      However for a new car you might have to pay a tax. I don’t know. If you find out let me know and I will post it here. If you are asking someone else may ask too!

      Hope you find a nice car.



    • Dear Isabelle,

      ciktat gave a great link above. Point 11 refers to your question, but see also point 4…

      11. What formalities do I need to fulfil to bring a car to Belgium?

      1. In the first place you need to submit a*special VAT declaration (446)*at the customs office and pay the VAT on the new car (21%) if this is a*new car*. This may be in cash or with a certified bank cheque. 2. After this you must take out insurance for the car. 3. If you bought a*second-hand car*, you will need to go through technical inspection. 4. Then you will have to register your car with the DIV. 5. Finally you will have to pay the required taxes (tax on circulation and road tax).

      4. What about the VAT if I buy a car in another EU Member State?

      If you buy a*new car*in another EU Member State, then you will pay the price on the spot without VAT. When you import the car into Belgium you will have to pay 21% VAT in Belgium.

      If you buy a*non-new car*, you will pay the price including VAT on the spot. The VAT rate in the country of the seller then applies.Click here for a list of all VAT rates in the EU.

      These rules only apply for a sale by a*professional dealer to a private individual*. If a private individual buys from another private individual, in principle no VAT is payable.

      Be careful, however, if you buy a car which the customs authority deems to be new from a*private individual*. In this case you will have to pay 21% VAT when you import the car into Belgium. The seller can in that case reclaim the VAT that he paid in his own country. This mechanism prevents double taxation but if you didn’t take this into account when you bought the car, then you could lose out.

      (copied from European Consumer Care Centre Belgium on 27/9/2012)



  11. Hi my name is Eben i bought a second hand car from USA but is not yet here but alot of people are telling me that am going to face a lot of problems at the customs and am begining to loose hope can you please help me on some of the things i need from the dealer i bought the car from and the steps i need to take before taking my car home thank you



  12. Useful post – Thanks! Would not have found it otherwise.
    Changes since your original post — office has changed: Now 2nd floor, corridor on the right, first office.
    Stamp duty now 1EUR.

  13. Hallo Kevin.
    I would like to bring a car from Greece to Belgium but the only thing I am worried about is that it is old and it has a different engine than the one put in from the factory. It is an old land rover defender built in 1991 and I changed the motor in 2004 and put on a bigger one, (the new engine is the same brand though) and I also changed the transmition (put an automatic on). Do you know where I can ask more info about those issues?. I am worried cause I do not want to go there and the Belgian authorities to tell me that is impossible to register it. Once I take it out from Greece I cannot bring it back in.
    I would be grateful for any advise.
    Thank you very much

    • Dear Yannis,

      I’d love to help, but sadly I am not an expert – I just documented my own search.

      That said I think the issue you face is around Certificate of Conformity. This says this vehicle is road certified for Belgium (well the EU I guess). Your modified Land Rover probably needs re-certifying. Do ask Land Rover. They are a good company. 50% of all Land rovers built are still on the road so I guess they are asked this.

      But in Greece they may have to issue a fresh certificate due to all the modifications.

      But this is a guess!

      Thanks for asking – I hope it works out for us. Let me know after and I will post your experience here: it might help some one else.



  14. Can I buy a used car from USA to Belgium and will it be difficult for me to clear it from the harbour thank you

  15. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
    auction license

  16. Kevin, did you drive the VW back from Germany without any plates on it? or did you go through the process to get the Belgian plates first, taking them to the dealer in Germany, fixing them onto the car and then drive it back?

  17. This blogpost was hugely helpful in guiding me through the process, let me just update with my observations having just completed the rigmarole, thanks to Kevin’s guidance and using an insurance broker for the complicated bit, it was much less painful than I imagined.

    i) obtain the European Certificate of Conformity. This was easy (my car manufacturer had the forms on their website), but took about a month to come through.
    ii) while waiting for the CoC I went to the customs office at Rue D’Entrepot in Brussels. Note the odd opening hours (shut at lunchtime and from fairly early in the afternoon) – I was there when it opened at 8am, and was the only customer there. Here I got the ‘pink form’ and customs stamp – they needed the UK car registration documents and proof of purchase ie the receipt/invoice I received when I had bought the car 2nd hand from a garage in the UK – I’m not sure what they would need as proof if you had bought the car in a private sale. All quick and easy so far…
    iii) also while waiting for the CoC to arrive, I ordered a new set of left-hand drive headlights for my car from a parts dealer on Ebay. Obviously not necessary if your car is coming from a continental European country and some cars have headlights that can be adjusted between LHD and RHD, but not mine so I had to replace the whole lot. I got the money back by selling my UK headlights on Ebay, so apart from the hassle it didn’t cost anything at least.
    iv) when I got the certificate of conformity I went to a local insurance broker. I’ve no doubt I paid a bit more compared with going on-line, but since they then handled most of the rest of the process, spoke English, and were very helpful this was well worth. The insurance broker need the CoC, my UK car registration documents, and the proof of no-claims bonus from my previous UK insurer. They separated the slip from my UK V5 (registration document) which allowed me to file the car as having been exported back in England, and kept the rest of the document to send in to the DIV. What was really cool is that they gave me an insurance document and green card straight away that allowed me to use the car on my UK plates while the rest of the process went through. As I’m at work all day, I asked if they could take delivery of the licence plates so I could pick them up from their office when it suited me. A few days later I got a call saying that the rear plate had arrived, so I went after work and collected the plate and my new Belgian car registration documents.
    iv) Got the front plate cut at a local locksmith / shoe repair shop, and got them fitted (a bit of a nuisance as they’re the same size as UK plates but are fixed via four corner screws, rather than two centre screws, and I was reluctant to start drilling holes in my car…
    v) took the car, the Belgian registration documents and the Certificate of Conformity to the Controle Technique in Schaerbeek. Again, got there as it opened (7am) to avoid the queues and it was a fairly simple process.
    vi) All done! The main wait was for the CoC document to come through, and I would really recommend using an insurance broker who seemed to massively simplify the process, and did all the DIV bit for me.

    Thanks Kevin – and I hope this update proves helpful.

  18. Very useful information, which should help with the sale of my Jaguar to a Belgian national and his wife who is a British citizen. They would like to export the car (his dream car – his wife’s words) from the UK into Belgium. They seem uncertain about whether they can export a UK Right Hand drive car into Belgium without having it converted to a Left Hand drive within 12 months. I cannot find information that makes this clear cut. I would not want to sell them my car if it presents them with such a dilemma 12 months down the road.

    I would appreciate your input in this regard.

    Alan B.

    • The only thing you have to do is switch the headlights to LHD units. Which side the wheel is on is unimportant.

      • Thanks Rob, I’m sure my potential buyers will be relieved to hear that little nugget of information. Swapping out the headlamps will be much easier to achieve. Being a Belgian national I’m sure that he already knows some of the steps that he needs to take Re: Obtaining a registration plate, road tax and some of the other assorted paperwork and addresses to visit/send documents. I should hear from him again by Tuesday with a yes or no.

        Thanks again
        Alan B.

  19. Hi Kevin,
    I just came across this post about importing a car from Germany into Belgium. Very useful, thanks.
    I would just like to know how you achieved the physical driving of the vehicle from Germany to Belgium – did it still have the previous owners plates? We’re looking to buy, though it may end up via dealer and i think that they sell vehicles without plates…

    So i’m curious of anyone’s experience of getting the vehicle from Germany to Belgium where the car didn’t already have plates…

    Thanks in advance!


  20. What insurance did you have to drive the car from Germany to Brussels?

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